Island supporters literally brought the “Pacific” in Pacific FC to Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont, as they cheered on their team to victory in Sunday’s Canadian Premier League championship game.
They put their own twist — actually, a twist of a cap — on the Lucky Loonie tale of Canadian sporting lore.
PFC fans Mike Geldreich, Blake McStravick and Steve Hemphill made the trip to Hamilton to support the Tridents, who beat two-time defending champion Forge FC.
McStravick collected a vial of Pacific Ocean water off Dallas Road and brought it with him. Before the championship game, the trio leaned over the stadium railing and called over PFC player Kunle Dada-Luke, then asked him to pour the Pacific water on the centre spot of the field. Dada-Luke duly obliged.
If you believe in magical mojo, maybe that was the secret to PFC’s championship. Just like the Lucky Loonie planted in centre ice of the hockey rink in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, where Canada won men’s and women’s gold.
Geldreich was back in time on Monday evening to welcome home the Pacific FC players at Victoria International Airport with a large group of fellow fans merrily waving banners, singing and banging drums.
“I’ve had no sleep,” said Geldreich, an electrician, who left for Hamilton on Saturday morning. “But it was worth it. We even crashed the Forge FC supporters’ pre-game party and took the abuse,” he said with a laugh.
Supporters groups are a staple of soccer and PFC has two — Lake Side Buoys and TOPS — which are as passionate as any.
Monday’s welcoming reception was noisy and joyous. Victoria airport has seen many such sporting homecomings previously for Island athletes returning from various Olympics, or amateur championships such as the University of Victoria in basketball.
But this was the first homecoming for an Island professional championship team since the 1966 Victoria Maple Leafs, Toronto’s farm team, in the old pro Western Hockey League. The Maple Leafs returned to a gathering fans in front of the old Memorial Arena on Blanshard Street after the team bus pulled in from Portland, where the Maple Leafs had beaten the Buckaroos to hoist the Lester Patrick Cup.
Praise for PFC’s accomplishment included from up high in the Canadian soccer firmament.
“I was at Pacific FC [Starlight Stadium in Langford] on the CPL opening day and got to see first hand how hard the owners and people had worked to bring football to the Island and now they are bringing a championship. What an amazing story,” tweeted national team coach John Herdman, who has Canada on the path to the 2022 World Cup.
Langford mayor Stew Young has promised a parade for PFC down Goldstream Avenue in the new year.